Proverbs 13:4

The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.
– Proverbs 13:4

This proverbs contrasts wanting and having. The word for sluggard means indolent or lazy. We might even say sluggish to do anything. To desire is to wish for or to want something. The sluggard here has a desire for things but has nothing. The sluggard is a certain type of fool in the Proverbs. His character is sketched in vivid pictures. He is hinged to his bed (Proverbs 26:14). He produces outlandish excuses, such as a lion in the street (Proverbs 26:13). The sluggard is pure laziness (Proverbs 26:15). Sluggards tend to have plenty of ideas but they find out talk is truly cheap (Proverbs 14:23). The contrast is with the diligent and their being made fat. Fatness is a reference to abundance or plenteousness. The general tenor of the Proverbs is that diligence, hard work, is rewarded with profit (Proverbs 14:23). The diligent also desire like the sluggards do, but the difference is the diligent get up and work in order to have (Proverbs 21:5).

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Proverbs 12:27

The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.
– Proverbs 12:27

The Proverbs speaks much of diligence and slothfulness. The first phrase shows the slothful man cannot finish what he has started. He has no commitment and perseverance to see a project through (Proverbs 19:24; 26:15). He creates a lot of waste and is left unsatisfied (Proverbs 6:11; 13:4; 21:25-26). The quarry taken in hunting is similar to the image of the harvest. There is a short time to roast it before it spoils. So, the slothful squander opportunities. The contrast expresses a different view by the diligent. All substance got through hard work and great blessing is precious, not to be wasted.

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Proverbs 12:24

The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.
– Proverbs 12:24

Proverbs consistently commends diligence, or hard work (Proverbs 6:6-11; 10:4; 12:27; 13:4; 19:15; 21:5). Diligence is a part of walking in wisdom. As Solomon put elsewhere, “time and chance” happens to all, so there is no absolute guarantee that diligence will lead to prosperity, but it is generally true (Ecclesiastes 9:11). To bear rule means to have dominion and it isn’t limited to positions of government. It refers here to the ascendance of the diligent to greater responsibility and authority. The word for tribute means a tax or forced labor situation. This contrast shows how the slothful descend in responsibility and authority. They are neither wise nor diligent like the ant, which needs no overseer (Proverbs 6:6-8).

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Proverbs 12:11

He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.
– Proverbs 12:11

The first phrase commends honest, hard work and recognizes it will be rewarded. This is one who avoids the ridiculous excuses of the sluggard (Proverbs 22:13; 26:13) and empty talk (Proverbs 14:23). He works and enjoys the fruits (Ecclesiastes 2:24). The contrast in this proverb is different than the usual contrast of diligence and laziness. The contrast is of one who follows after vanity. The word for vain persons here is literally empty. It can refer to worthlessness, whether of people or general pursuits. The picture then is not of a sluggard hinged to his bed who is too lazy to raise a hand to his mouth (Proverbs 26:14-15). The picture rather is of one who puts time and energy running after worthless schemes or pleasures. He invests himself in unprofitable pursuits. This would include get rich quick schemes, excessive pleasure seeking, or generally being one who works harder at getting out of work than what the work would be if done directly. Such a one is void of understanding, or lacks wisdom.

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Proverbs 10:4

He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.
– Proverbs 10:4

A slack hand refers to laxness or slothfulness. It is contrasted with diligent, which refers to definite, determined action. Wisdom teaches that slothfulness tends to poverty (Proverbs 6:9-11; 19:15; 20:4). Wisdom also teaches that diligent work tends to abundance (Proverbs 13:4; 21:5).

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Proverbs 2:6

For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
– Proverbs 2:6

The strenuous effort described in the opening verses of chapter 2 does not do away with the divine source of wisdom. Solomon never teaches us that we can obtain wisdom by human effort, quite the reverse. God gives wisdom. Wisdom belongs to God and can only be given by him (1 Corinthians 2:14). But God does give wisdom to those who ask of him in faith (James 1:5-6). Those who seek, find (Luke 11:9-10). We all lack wisdom naturally but if we go on lacking wisdom it is probably because we have not asked (James 4:2).

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Proverbs 2:3

Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
– Proverbs 2:3

The picture here reverses the picture of wisdom crying out in the previous chapter. The increasing intensity of these verses show that we ought not to rest satisfied if we lack wisdom. If the ear is not hearing wisdom so that the mind can reflect on it, then we must cry out after it. We must seek it with all we have. So Solomon says that not only should we welcome wisdom when we encounter it, but we must go looking for it.

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Proverbs 2:2

So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
-Proverbs 2:2

Patience and sustained effort are required in the acquiring of wisdom. To incline the ear is to listen with attention. To apply the heart is to consider well. He describes the whole process of learning and understanding. The ear must take in and the heart, or mind, must think over what is heard. These verses teach us something about the way the spirit gives us wisdom, while we labor to understand (2 Timothy 2:7). It’s kind of like giving a friend a book. Once you give them the book they own it, but they must read the book to gain the knowledge from it.

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Psalm 119:4

Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
~ Psalm 119:4

The previous verses have dealt with the blessed state. It has been described and now is commanded. There may be few who truly exist daily in this blessed state, but we are all alike commanded to it.

The command necessarily relieves the godly man of any right to glory in himself. If he keeps the precepts, he is but doing what is commanded of him to do. He is as the unprofitable servant in Luke 17:10.

So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

On the other hand, we note that the blessed man is not one by accident. He is commanded to keep the precepts of God. This requires diligence and labor. To keep God’s precepts requires deliberate and determined purpose. We need the exhortation of Barnabas to the Antioch Christians, “Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord” (Acts 11:23).

The word for precepts means mandates or charges and appears 21 times in this Psalm. This refers to God’s charges or mandates which are prescribed to us in His Word. Also, we are to attend to them diligently, which word comprehends the idea of vehemence, speed, and exceeding. Surely this would allow no cavalier attitude toward the precepts of God. Certainly, we are to expend energy and haste to keep His Word.

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